Police brutality protest prompts tear-gas release

Max Rust

When police arrested three people last week during a protest in south Minneapolis, both protesters and police agreed that some kind of tear gas was released.
But just who sprayed the gas is a point of contention.
Several of those protesters, which included some University students, held a press conference Monday in front of Minneapolis City Hall to recount and spotlight police actions they described as brutal.
The incidents took place at a march to decry police brutality. Similar organized demonstrations were held Friday in more than 60 U.S. cities.
According to a man who identified himself as “Tree Frog,” the group of 100 protesters assembled where Lake Street meets Hiawatha Avenue, then marched east to the Third Precinct police station where they rallied.
After arriving at 5 p.m., the protesters’ chants and cheers went uninterrupted by police for more than an hour.
While walking, the protesters were confronted by police who “pushed them off the street,” Tree Frog said.
However, Minneapolis police Lt. Robert Allen of the Third Precinct said they were asked to move to the sidewalk only because they were blocking traffic. When a group does not obtain a permit for marching in the street, “we ask that they stay on the sidewalk. If they refuse, they’re subject to arrest,” Allen said.
Tree Frog said he started taking pictures while police arrested one person behind a squad car. An officer then grabbed his arm and told him to get back on the sidewalk.
The officer allegedly pulled Tree Frog over his outstretched leg, tripping him and sending him to the ground, bruising his lip, face and hands in the process.
“He just didn’t want me taking pictures,” Tree Frog said.
Soon after, an officer unleashed pepper spray into the crowd, dispersing them, Tree Frog said. “It was just enough to get people moving.”
Molly McGuire, a member of Anti-Racist Action, also witnessed the spraying. In a press release, she wrote: “… folks were starting to move when a cop pulled out a can of pepper spray and shot it into the crowd.”
Allen’s account of the spraying contradicted the protesters’ statements.
“No pepper spray was used, and I know because I had it locked up with me,” he said. “However, several officers got maced by people in the crowd.”
Allen said he smelled the spray, too, and determined it was a chemical-based spray like Mace, not the pepper spray used by police.
Police were unable to pick out who sprayed the Mace. Both parties have decided against further investigation.
Tree Frog and the other two individuals arrested were charged with disorderly conduct.

Max Rust covers the local community and welcomes comments at [email protected]